(Published in The PUNCH of Monday, May 7, 2018)
The face of the one-year-old suddenly lit up when he saw his father step in through the door. Gingerly, he rose to his tottering feet, wild in excitement, he surged forward, balancing between walking and running, screaming and laughing, lunging, lightning steps as he darted and collapsed into the outstretched arms of a stooping, happy father. Giving him his special treat, father throws his overjoyed little tot high up in the air, one, two, three, four, and gave him a loving cuddle on the fifth count. The toddler’s energetic screams mixed with the father’s teasing and laughter, electrifying the air. Then an awful smell crushed the excitement. It was a smell no ovation can quell. It was the smell of shit. Grimacing, father looks closer; his suit, shirt and tie were bespattered with shit, so was his belt. Junior has done it again.
This was the scenario that played out when President Muhammadu Buhari was guest to President Donald Trump in Washington last week. Although no gift of clairvoyance is needed to unriddle who the child or father in the scenario is, the interview granted by President Buhari in the world’s most powerful nation was an antithesis to an otherwise rousing visit. In the interview with the Voice of America, Hausa Service, during the three-day visit to Washington, President Buhari said, “Recently, I had to come out and state that from 1999 to 2014, anyone who carries out a study here in America or Europe or India will know that we were producing 2.2m barrels of crude oil daily at a price of at least $100 per barrel. In those 16 years of the PDP rule, Nigeria was getting 2.1m x $100 every day, every week, but when we came on board; the price fell to between $37 and $38 and hung around $40 and $50.
“I went to the CBN – the governor of CBN is here, and asked him how far, and he said nothing was left apart from debts. I said ‘but this is what the country made?’ And he said yes, he knew, and I asked him, ‘where is the money?’ All is gone. Nigerians know that there were no roads or rail lines, there was no power, despite the billions of dollars spent. Only God will judge this thing,” the President declared.
ONLY God will judge. Only God! Only a thoroughly overwhelmed Commander-in-Chief and executive President who has reached his tether’s end could come to this grim and absurd conclusion. If we are to leave only God to judge the criminals among us, we might as well sack our judges and security organizations, and trample upon the admonition of Aristotle, who warned thousands of years ago, saying, “At best, man is the noblest of animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”
Not anymore do I care a hang about the unmistakable and irritating trademark lamentation of PDP-this, PDP-that by the President, whose deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, is stridently turning into a lamenter-in-chief. For the one-millionth time, both Buhari and Osinbajo sang anti-Peoples Democratic Party excuses thrice in two days, last week. My grouse this time round is with the “Only-God-will-judge” new line President Buhari added to his broken Song of Excuse. The “Only-God-will-judge” new line in the remix of the Song of Excuse is the shit in Buhari’s visit to the US. It is the pinhole pricked in the bubble of the US visit, exposing the President’s shocking ill-comprehension of his duties and functions of government.
During the visit, President Buhari also had harsh words for the media, which he described as not projecting his government in good light. President Buhari must still be cocooned in the memories of his administration’s earlier romance with the media which described him as incorrupt, patriotic and development-hungry. Your Excellency, without performance, politics is quicksand. The President’s newfound disdain for the media could be a reason why he probably doesn’t read Nigerian newspapers anymore.
Because if he does, he ostensibly would have read the stories of alleged massive corruption eating up his cabinet, the corruption in the fight against terrorism, menace of Fulani herdsmen, insecurity, selectivity of the anti-corruption war, policy vacuity, ethnic lopsidedness in appointments etc. A government that reads and acts on news reports won’t wait before a foreign news medium, the BBC, embarrassed the nation with the well-researched documentary masterpiece, “Sweet, sweet codeine,” before banning codeine-based syrups because many Nigerian newspapers have, hitherto, published reports on how drugs have been ruining Nigerian youths, but governments at all levels had looked the other way. With the BBC report, heads should have started rolling within the ministry of health and the pharmaceutical industry – if our country is not big-for-nothing.
“Shall we gag the President” was one of the initial headlines I penned for this article. Indeed, a couple of other headlines weaved in and out of my mind as I put the article together. At a point along the line, I had headlines like, “Shut the heck up, Mr President!,” “President Buhari makes me sick,” “Is dementia setting in on the Presidency?,” “Stop whining, President Buhari; perform!” “God won’t do your work for you, President Buhari,” “What Trump truly thinks of Buhari,” among others.
The greatest Reggae musician of all time, Bob Marley, died at the age of 36, gifting the world great songs recorded by his group, Wailing Wailers, which comprised Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and himself. Marley, who later adopted the name, Wailing Wailers, after the group broke up, wailed against different forms of oppression afflicting the black race, professing hope and redemption until he died in Miami, Florida on May 11, 1981 of melanoma, a kind of skin cancer, which started from a toe and, over the years, spread to his lungs and brain.
Call it empty wailing, President Buhari practically wailed against nothing in the Washington interview with his despondent resignation and depressing buck-passing unto God. No, Mr President, the buck stops at your table and no God’s. If God participated in the 2015 presidential election that brought you to power, Nigeria would have been saved your stagnating inaction. Whimpering in faraway USA that “Only God will judge” is a confirmation of the worst fears of Nigerians that Mallam Buhari has no answers to the challenges facing the country and an abdication of the authority, powers and responsibilities vested in him by the Nigerian Constitution.
I implore the President to mentally format the military tactics he learnt decades ago, they appear to be archaic and irrelevant in solving our present challenges. I recommend to our President, a studying of Thomas Hobbes’ theory on the State of Nature, where life is ‘nasty, brutish and short’ in the absence of responsible leadership. I also recommend crash courses in effective public speaking, logic, democracy, international relations, economics and geography. Hobbes’ postulations on the “State of Nature” would teach President Buhari that anarchy is what you get if you leave only God to judge the monumental financial crimes committed under the rapacious Goodluck Jonathan administration and other crimes committed across the country. If he had stayed a few days longer, maybe President Trump would have taught President Buhari that judgment starts on earth if life must have a meaning. I’m almost sure Trump would have said something like, “See why I called your country shithole, Moh’m? Some frigging assholes stole your country blind, and yet they have the temerity to talk and challenge you to your face? My Lord! I can’t imagine why you call Nigeria a country! Trust me, if it was America’s money that was stolen, I would have smoked out those thieves one by one – from Port Harcourt to Aibardan to Oshog-bo to Kanoo and hanged ‘em all by the balls, all of them! That’s how to make a country work.”